12 November 2012

Manage Tasks, Manage Time

For any of us who have extremely busy lives, we all still have one very important fact in common: we all get the exact same 24 hours in a day. In all my years of coaching, teaching and counseling, I have come to realize there is no such thing as time management. You cannot manage time; no matter which way you slice it, you still have the same 24 hours in a day. What you can manage are the tasks you choose to do in that 24 hour period. When I say choose, I mean you have complete control over them. The tasks you do everyday are the tasks you choose; no one else chose them and you can choose not to do them as well.

In my coaching and counseling practice, I hear so many women say those dreaded four words: “I don’t have time!” When pressed, it is because they are so busy. I do understand being busy, but I don’t understand being too busy to do the things you truly want to do and enjoy doing. If you have opted doing busy work for doing productive and creative work, then something is out of harmony in your life.

It is said that time flies when you’re having fun. This is very true. My days fly by because I choose to fill them with the things I am passionate about. If I choose to fulfill a task that is a drudgery, then I need to either delegate that task, if possible, or change my view about that task. I know several people who do not like doing laundry. If I chose to view this necessary task as just cleaning a bunch of dirty clothes, then I would probably hate it as well. But I love the smell and the feeling of clean clothes. I love folding and putting away fresh, clean clothes. To me, it is like a new beginning. The truth is, I enjoy doing laundry because I have a positive view of the outcome. Also, laundry is one of those low maintenance tasks that I can do while doing a high maintenance task that I enjoy. A low maintenance task is a task you begin and it can basically run itself; you don’t have to do much and there is no active brain work involved. Doing laundry is a low maintenance task because outside of adding the detergents and fabric softeners, there isn’t much else to think about. While you are doing this low maintenance task, you can also do a high maintenance task – one that needs your complete focus and attention. This high maintenance task should be related to your daily goals and intentions – not random acts of doing.

Multi-tasking is counter productive unless you pair a low maintenance task with a high maintenance task. Doing two high maintenance tasks at the same time only means they each get 50% of your attention and effort. Doing two low maintenance tasks at the same time is a waste of your time and energy. You cannot drive your children to school while working on that proposal – those are two high maintenance tasks which require your full attention.

Look at your daily tasks and determine which can be paired up. Allot enough time to complete those tasks and stick with them until they are completed. Save your high maintenance tasks for when you have the physical, emotional and spiritual energy to do them. While you are at your lowest energy level, you can do things like check your emails, fold and iron the laundry and the like. These tasks do not require much brain power.

Eliminate or delegate those tasks you don’t need to do yourself. If chopping vegetables is a pain, then buy vegetables already chopped. Be creative and find ways to add value to your time and life. And make sure you add a creative outlet for yourself – like crafts, scrapbooking, baking, knitting, gardening, playing tennis or swimming. Find something you can do just for you as a release. We all need this. You must create a space in your day just for you – even if it is just 30 minutes; those can be the most precious 30 minutes of your day.

You have time for what you make time for. You have the power to choose what you make the time for.


Claire Hegarty B said...

Even though I am on a career break to take care of my son and mother, I often find it hard to fit wverything in. I viewed doing laundry and dishes as mundane but, like you, I use the time positively. I repeat positive mantras to myself and do deep breathing. I use the time as quiet time to fit in meditation and I find it works quite well. I will read through your post again to see what other things I can do.

Coach Carolyn said...

Thank you for your comment, Claire. I applaud you for your managing your time and having time for meditation and breathing. Very important. Blessings, CoachC.